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Linda Bassett on how a MAJOR outbreak hits Call the Midwife!

Call The Midwife Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett)
(Image credit: BBC)

Everyone’s on high alert when cases of highly contagious disease diphtheria are reported, as Call the Midwife's Linda Bassett reveals...

As Call the Midwife returns on Sunday night, it’s 1965 and shockwaves ripple through Poplar when news comes that Sir Winston Churchill has died. But there’s little time for the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House to mourn as they deal with a major outbreak of diphtheria.

Nurse Crane and Lucille (Leonie Elliott) visit the local homeless shelter to treat Dena, who’s due to give birth any day now. Nurse Crane is appalled by the unsanitary conditions pregnant Dena and her young son Terry are living in, so she gets onto the council and manages to find them a new home.

Call the Midwife Nurse Crane Dena Terry

Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) is appalled at the conditions Dena and her son Terry are living in...

Dena and Terry’s joy is short-lived, however, as Dena goes into labour unaware Terry has collapsed in the flat with breathing problems.

As Dr Turner’s receptionist Miss Higgins raises the alarm, Dr Turner (Stephen McGann) examines Terry and diagnoses diphtheria, a highly contagious disease, which he believed had been eradicated thanks to vaccinations. With Terry put into isolation, Nurse Crane must ensure the nuns and midwives have had their jabs…

"Diphtheria can be fatal, so when it comes back into the country everyone’s frightened because they don’t know where it’s come from," says Linda Bassett, who plays Nurse Crane. "Call the Midwife goes big on vaccinations this series, which is timely because people are stopping having them and we’re seeing diseases we really shouldn’t have making a comeback.

"Young people don't necessarily take the need for vaccinations seriously because they didn't go through the time when these illnesses killed lots of people."

MORE: Helen George on why she gets frustrated at the show's fluffy reputation

As other cases are reported, can Dr Turner uncover the source of the outbreak? Meanwhile, it seems there’s another problem on the horizon as Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) receives a letter saying that Nonnatus House could be under threat from demolition. Can it be saved?

"There’s a chance they might lose it," says Linda. "I think the Nonnatuns left Poplar in the 1970s, so we can’t go on forever."

Call the Midwife returns on Sunday January 5 at 8pm on BBC1.